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MHS to charge out-of-county tuition again

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Maplesville High School will return to charging tuition for new out-of-county students in the 2019-2020 school year.

The decision was approved 4 to 3 by the Chilton County Board of Education at the recommendation of Chilton County Schools Superintendent Jason Griffin during a meeting on Jan. 22.

Out-of-county students who enrolled for the first time in the 2018-2019 school year will be grandfathered in to continue receiving free tuition, as long as enrollment is in consecutive years.

Board Vice President Jacqueline Sullivan and board members Lori Patterson, Keith Moore and Chris Smith voted in favor. Board President Brian Jackson and board members Pam Price and Angie Sanderson voted against.

Sanderson asked for the reasoning behind allowing current out-of-county students at MHS to continue to attend tuition free.

“I just don’t think it’s right to have students enroll under a waiving of an out-of-county tuition, then to come in and enroll and then a year later we say, ‘you are going to pay tuition next year,’” Griffin said.

Griffin estimated there were less than 30 students who had taken advantage of the opportunity.

Waiving the fee had been approved by the BOE before the start of last school year. The intent was to try to increase enrollment at Maplesville High School.

“That goals has been reached,” Griffin said.

He said requiring tuition might mean losing those students, since “they had not been told one way or the other” if they would pay tuition in later school years.

Enrollment increased by less than 30 students in the 2018-2019 school year.

The school system has several new board members and a new superintendent since the vote to waive tuition was made.

The BOE also approved 6 to 1 hiring a new fourth-grade teacher for MHS during the Jan. 22 meeting.

Board President Brian Jackson, Vice President Jacqueline Sullivan and board members Lori Patterson, Keith Moore, Angie Sanderson and Chris Smith voted in favor. Pam Price voted against.

The position will be paid for from local revenue, as opposed to revenue from the state like most teaching positions.

The school’s only fourth grade classroom had 34 at one point in the week prior to the board meeting. According to MHS Vice Principal Crystal Sabat, the classroom started the year with 30 students.

“We have asked to split this class from the beginning of school,” Sabat said.

Efforts had been made to try and find another solution.

“We have literally done everything we could to try to keep from hiring,” Teaching and Learning director Ashlie Harrison said.

Harrison said ordinarily, they would try to fund such a position with federal funds the school receives based on the number of students on free and reduced lunch, but there were none available.

Price asked if it would be better to hire an assistant for the existing classroom, so the students could finish the school year with the same teacher.

“Are the parents aware that we are looking at splitting this class?” Price asked.

“I think the parents would be overwhelmed with joy,” Harrison said.

She said the increase to 34 students was partly due to the school system allowing students to re-enroll in January.